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PAÑCHAKŌŚA –SIDDHĀNTA (doctrine of five sheaths): [ಪಂಚಕೋಶ ಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತ]


The doctrine of five sheaths enshrined in the Upaniṣads [ಉಪನಿಷತ್] reappears in the Vachanas, but with an enlarged meaning. According to the Upaniṣads , the individual soul which is essentially the same as Brahman (infinite consciousness) is covered by five sheaths (kōśas) and has been subjected to suffering.

1. Annamaya-kōśa:[ಅನ್ನಮಯ ಕೋಶ] The sheath of gross body is made of food (anna) we have eaten over years. Because of the limitations of the body the soul suffers in various ways. The Vachana-writers suggest that if we eat food as Prasāda (i.e after offering it to Parashiva), then our body becomes Prasāda-kaya, body made of holy food.

2. Pranamaya-kōśa: [ಪ್ರಾಣಮಯ ಕೋಶ] The sheath called prana (principle of life), which is within the sheath of gross body, is made of five airs (prana, samana, etc). If the aspirant can discipline the five airs and establishes the Linga all over his prana, then his selfishness (which is the cause of much of suffering) is reduced [see PAÑCHA VĀYU (FIVE AIRS)].

3. Manōmaya-kōśa: [ಮನೋಮಯ ಕೋಶ] The sheath within the above two sheaths is called manōmaya-kōśa, mental sheath. Normally our mind jumps from object to object, which is the mark of its dissatisfaction. If we can contemplate GOD always the evil effect of that kōśa is reduced.

4. Vijñyānamaya-kōśa: [ವಿಜ್ಞಾನಮಯ ಕೋಶ] The sheath within the above three is vijñyānamaya-kōśa or conscious sheath i.e self-consciousness, which involves duality of subject and object. This sense of duality can be dispelled by means of meditation on Linga, leading to the feeling of non-duality.

5. Anandamaya-kōśa [ಆನಂದಮಯ ಕೋಶ] is the sheath of bliss within the above four sheaths. The self within this sheath has only temporary imperfect ananda and can enjoy eternal and perfect bliss only if it unites with Parashiva indistinguishably, as in lingānga-sāmarasya, [ಲಿಂಗಾಂಗ ಸಾಮರಸ್ಯ]. It may be noted that the five sheaths are not destroyed by the lingānga-sāmarasya, but only converted so that the self within it realizes its most original, i.e., perfect nature. [11:784]

PAÑCHA VĀYU (Five Airs): [ಪಂಚ ವಾಯು]

It is believed that there are five airs, namely, prāna, udāna, samāna, vyāna and apāna [ಪ್ರಾಣ, ಉದಾನ, ಸಮಾನ, ವ್ಯಾನ ಮತ್ತು ಅಪಾನ], which function in several ways in the human body.
Prāna: The locus of the prāna is heart, and prāna keeps alive all parts of the body by breathing and digesting the food eaten.
Apāna: The function of the apāna is to distribute the digested food to different parts of the body and cause urination and excretion.
Vyāna: which is in all pores of the body, is responsible for contraction of all bodily parts, which are otherwise expanded and for filling the stomach with the food eaten.
Udāna: is in throat and is responsible for such acts as sneezing, coughing, dreaming, vomiting, etc.
Samāna: which is in the naval region, is believed to distribute the nutrition to the hair.

Sometimes it is believed that there is only one air, which functions in five ways and accordingly gets five names.

[11:784] : 784th Vachana in the 11th Volume, (Samagra Vachana-Samputa in 15 volumes)
Publisher: Kannada Pustaka Pradikhara Govt of Karnataka, Bangalore, 2001.

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